DeMarcus Cousins: What's Troubling Him 2 Weeks Into His Sacramento Kings Career?

David SpohnCorrespondent INovember 9, 2010

DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C Sacramento Kings

In preparation for the 2010-11 NBA season, the honor of NBA Rookie of the Year was believed to be an arms race between a handful of talented phenoms: John Wall, Blake Griffin and DeMarcus Cousins.

Through two weeks of action, Wall and Griffin have blown by Cousins like two speeding Corvettes past a school bus.

While his Sacramento Kings boast the best record amongst the three, DeMarcus Cousins hasn't had a great deal to do with it. Cousins has played 136 minutes as a professional basketball player, and during that time frame he nearly has as many rebounds (35) as personal fouls (29).

Lack of opportunity certainly cannot be used as a viable excuse for DeMarcus' early season ails. Starting center Samuel Dalembert missed the first game and has been eased in slowly and methodically into the Kings rotation since. Minutes and opportunity were there for Cousins thus far, and he did little to show for it. Now that Dalembert is essentially back to his full-time status, DeMarcus will have to impress his coaches to earn minutes now.

Struggling with foul trouble is nothing new for NBA rookies. The drastic changes in the speed of the game and the physical nature of the game notoriously plagues first year pros; particularly power forwards and centers who spend the majority of their time grappling in the key. But by the same token, it's not impossible to play smart.

Regretfully, foul trouble isn't the only issue DeMarcus Cousins is dealing with thus far. Cousins is rebounding at an embarrassingly low rate (5.8 boards per contest). He is shooting a ghastly 41.1% from the field and has inexplicably taken 6 three point attempts in just six games as a pro, including 4 against the Lakers in his one national television appearance. Coincidence? I think not. 

Expectations are literally larger than life for Cousins, as fair or not, his image adorns the side of Sacramento's ARCO Arena in the form of a 35 x 118 ft. banner featuring the rookie. The Kings field one of the youngest rosters in the league, with an ownership group that desperately wants to reconnect their franchise with their once rabid Sacramento fan base. DeMarcus Cousins, along with prized Rookie of the Year winner Tyreke Evans, is being marketed to local fans as the faces of the franchise going forward.

Lest we forget that the soft spoken big man celebrated his 20th birthday less than three months ago. DeMarcus Cousins has played a mere six games, he's been a pro for just two short weeks.

But watching the Kings regularly, I have observed multiple red flags in DeMarcus' game. At times his shot selection is so poor it would make Larry Hughes or Allen Iverson seem like a Bobby Knight point guard from 1986. He is way too skilled on the block to be wasting his time jacking threes on the perimeter. Can he hit them? Occasionally yes. Doesn't make it an intelligent shot for the offense.

But in addition to the need to have him in the paint to potentially snare more offensive rebounds with his enormous frame, it more properly spaces the floor for the array of pure shooters on the team. At times his body language is terrible, as he wildly reacts to marginal foul calls or sometimes shows up his teammates by yelling for not getting the ball. The concern is that the aforementioned bad habits could shape the player he becomes, and whether or not he can fulfill his limitless potential.

The young man has a lot going for him as well, though. He has the best hands of any Sacramento King since Chris Webber. He is one of the most talented post players to come into the league in recent memory. He has shooting range legitimately out to three point range and has shown off a knack, and most importantly, a willingness for passing out of the double team relatively well.

There are many questions I have going forward with DeMarcus. Will he live on the perimeter hoisting jumpers? Is he coachable? Will he be more disciplined defensively to avoid foul trouble?

If he puts the work in and truly dedicates himself to the game of basketball, he absolutely has the potential to become the inside/out threat with his impressive midrange game and his extensive back to the basket repertoire. 

If he chooses to rely solely on the gifts he was blessed with and not work at it, he'll be this generation's Derrick Coleman, Antoine Walker, Eddy Curry or Rasheed Wallace. A couple All-Star appearances, but overall giant disappointments based on the level of talent each was blessed with.

It's all in his hands what kind of player he wishes to become.


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